Xinjiang Urumqi subway, China


Senior Member
May 30, 2009
Social Media Videos Show Han Chinese Settling in Uyghur Regions
RFA Uyghur Service director Alim Seytoff says China’s government entices the settlers with free housing, free health care and free schooling for their children.


Senior Member
May 30, 2009
Han Chinese Immigrants and Army Attacking Uyghur
Han Chinese Immigrants are starting to Attack uyghur's residential area ,shops, apartment even innocent uyghur people on the street, It's good that Western Meida are there, This Chinese Communist can't Cover their ass.


Senior Member
May 30, 2009

The Uyghurs and the Han: 1 World, 2 Universes
Both peoples inhabit the same land – Xinjiang in western China – but their lives could not be more different.
The Uyghurs and the Han: 1 World, 2 Universes
Both peoples inhabit the same land – Xinjiang in western China – but their lives could not be more different.

The Uyghurs and the Han: 1 World, 2 Universes

In this Nov. 4, 2017, photo, residents walk past a security checkpoint at the close of a open air market in Kashgar in western China’s Xinjiang region.

Credit: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan
Imagine a world where two separate peoples live side-by-side, but in parallel universes. One sets its clock to Beijing time and the other to Central Asian, two hours behind. The majority population is largely oblivious of and disinterested in the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of the other. The cultural and social backgrounds of the two groups are governed by principles so diverse that it has become impossible to live together in peace and thus the government has decided that the only way to achieve its objectives is to clamp down and imprison anyone it deems a threat to the status quo.

This is Xinjiang, a Muslim, so-called autonomous region in the far west of China. The Turkic, largely Islamic people of Xinjiang – most notably the Uyghur minority group — have more in common with their Islamic neighbors in the five Central Asian countries to the west than with atheistic and quasi-Confucian Beijing, which has stepped up an across-the-board sinicization drive under President Xi Jinping. A vocal and sometimes militant Uyghur independence movement has also complicated relations with Beijing and estranged the majority Han, who see Xinjiang as an inalienable part of China.

After a proliferation of Uyghur-executed violent incidents, which have escalated over the past four years, Chen Quanguo — fresh from the success quelling the native people of Tibet with draconian policies — was brought in as Communist Party secretary of Xinjiang to stem the tide. His arrival in August 2016 has been heralded as a dramatic “success” by the government. Since his inauguration, “peace and stability” has been restored to the troubled province — by extrajudicially incarcerating more than 1 million Uyghurs within the past year and terrorizing those who remain. This has set Chen on a collision course with human rights activists and world opinion, but not enough to make a dent in his efforts to “eradicate the tumors and exterminate the viruses” of Islamic fundamentalism and “splittism,” which the government claims have plagued the province.

For those Uyghurs still at liberty, those who have managed to remain under the all-intrusive and all-pervasive radar, life has become a process of survival and dodging the surveillance bullets until they themselves fall foul of the Orwellian regime. No one, it seems, is exempt from the cull as university professors, road sweepers, surgeons, and shopkeepers alike are rounded up and heard of no more.

The most bizarre side to all this, however, is that while Uyghurs tremble at footsteps on the landing at night, cross the road to avoid the all pervasive phone checks, and speak in code to their friends, it is pretty much business as usual for their Han compatriots in Xinjiang.

Standing in a queue at a Kazakhstan airport, half a plane load of Han Chinese holiday-makers, clutching their Dubai airport duty-free bags, were waiting to board the flight home to Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang. This seemingly normal sight is shocking when considered in juxtaposition with the situation of their Uyghur compatriots. Not only have all Uyghurs been deprived of their passports these days, but should any of them dare to even utter the word “Dubai,” admit they have been or want to go there, or receive a text or phone call from a family member living there, within minutes there would be a knock on the door and they would disappear. Dubai is among 26 destinations “of interest” to the Chinese government; a visit to these places by a Uyghur, or simply having a relative living there, would result in an immediate trip to re-education camps – or worse. If any Uyghur, having escaped the initial passport confiscation drive, dared to return home on this very same flight from any country on “the list,” they would never make it out of Urumqi airport without being taken aside, interrogated in a special room, and being marched to re-education. There would be no court case, no legal representation, no call to their family, no chance to appeal or ask why.

The gulf between ordinary Uyghurs minding their own business and the Han Chinese is growing daily. What for the Han would be a seamless commute across town is a lengthy journey for a Uyghur in the south of the province. Being pulled off public buses, ID and phone checks, nerve-wracking moments wondering whether the arrest of a relative has also given them a black mark – these experiences are par for the course for a Uyghur on their journey to work. Uyghurs on motor scooters are hauled to one side, their IDs scrutinized and their luggage compartments examined. Even entry to their own homes necessitates facial recognition cameras and further ID analysis and bag checks. Meanwhile, the Han breeze through without a backward glance.

When questioned about the disparity, many Han express a sneaking feeling that there is no smoke without fire and that arrests made are usually justified. They swallow the government line that inconveniencing the few has brought calm to the region and that in the unlikely event of inadvertent wrongful arrests, these would soon be put right.

Greater prosperity among the young and the possibility of traveling for fun means that young Chinese are flexing their wings to see the world. Some even take solo trips to far-flung places and return with tales to make their friends envious; opportunities their parents would have barely dared dream of. But while young Han boast animatedly about their recent trips to Europe and Southeast Asia, their Uyghur compatriots sit and listen — unable to say a word, but filled with hopelessness as they hear about countries they will never see. Worse, if a young Uyghur so much as expresses a desire to visit such exotic locales, it could result in re-education or worse.

Before the mass roundups began, there had been a trend among many Uyghur parents to remove their children from atheistic state schooling altogether. Parents threw all their children’s eggs into the foreign language basket and hoped their offspring would eventually escape to the West. With the door to foreign education closed, these youngsters are now marooned in a no-man’s land of illiteracy in their second language — Mandarin Chinese — and no school diploma to fall back on. Others, despite running the gauntlet of an ideological education, hoped one day to escape overseas for a master’s or doctoral program. But all Uyghurs are effectively stranded following the confiscation of their passports and these days even expressing a desire to travel overseas or learn a foreign language has been enough to see thousands of aspiring youths in re-education.

Mixed gatherings of Han and Uyghur, where Chinese students enthusiastically peruse a smorgasbord of opportunities overseas, are a tantalizing specter for those who, but for the accident of birth, also could have been sharing in the feast.

The discrepancies between Chinese Han and Uyghur Muslims grow by the day. Uyghur Muslims alone have been trawled for their DNA, blood types, iris scans, and facial characteristics. Uyghurs alone are visited several times a week by armed police, their homes scoured for religious literature, Islamic script of any kind adorning trinkets or pictures, and the QR codes on the back of their doors scanned for irregularities. Only Uyghurs have to keep a notebook detailing visits by not only their friends and relatives, but those of neighbors in their street, the content of the conversations, and the time and date of arrival and departure. In Beijing, officials no longer claim that the opposition is composed of a small number of extremists. “It’s impossible to tear out weeds one by one,” said one party official in Kashgar. “We need chemicals that can deal with all of them at once.” No one is exempt.

Every Uyghur is under a microscope of surveillance. They are forced to install satellite navigation in their cars and to install the special Jingwang Weishi app on their phones, which sends the police an identification number for the device, its model, and the telephone number of its owner before monitoring all the information that passes through the telephone, warning the user when it finds content that the government deems dangerous. Failure to carry your phone, refusal to use a smartphone, turning it off completely for long periods, or even restoring your phone to its factory settings can be deemed suspicious.

Uyghur homes belonging to the “disappeared” are being repossessed and padlocked. Children who have had both parents taken away are being brought up in state orphanages hurriedly being built for the purpose. All Uyghurs are waiting in fear for the knock that might come to their doors.

The Han and the Uyghurs of China inhabit the same land but two very different universes. Whilst the majority of Han cope with the problems of life common to mankind, of waking up every day and making sense of their existence, their Uyghur countrymen and women are coping with an extraordinary assault on their humanity, their right to carve out a life for themselves and their children, and their very existence itself. The situation in Xinjiang is reminiscent of Europe in the late 1930s and we all know the outcome of that.


Senior Member
May 30, 2009
Witness to discrimination: Confessions of a Han Chinese from Xinjiang

16 June 2020, 13:33 UTC

By Cha Naiyu, former Xinjiang resident
Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities face systemic repression and discrimination in the Chinese region of Xinjiang, but what’s it like to live there as a Han Chinese person?

The two Uyghur boys were much stronger than me. They taught me to flip on parallel bars every day after school. We shared the same bag of snacks, drank from the same bottle of water. When I was growing up in Xinjiang, it didn’t matter that I was Han and they were not. But that Xinjiang has all but disappeared.
In other parts of China, Xinjiang is synonymous with trouble and stigma and with being remote and backward. But many people in Xinjiang tell me it’s the safest place in the country – they are proud of it.
I moved away several years ago. Every time I go back home, I feel the atmosphere has become heavier as the government’s control has increased. Enter any building – restaurant, shopping mall, cinema, hospital, supermarket – and it’s the same: security check, bag check, swipe ID card. Compared to the place I remember from my childhood, it feels like being in a science fiction film.
When I returned to Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, during the Spring Festival one year, police cars were lined up outside the train station. I discovered that ethnic minority people from outside Urumqi needed a letter of guarantee from their local relatives or employer just to leave the train station.
Meanwhile people arriving from southern Xinjiang, which until recently was predominantly Uyghur, were assigned jobs on arrival by official “work units” that would closely monitor their performance and behaviour. Those who did not smoke or drink for instance, or were perceived to have strong religious leanings, would face particular scrutiny. Muslims who performed poorly in their new jobs would be sent to a place to "learn".
A friend told me that in 2017, around the time of the Chinese Communist Party’s 19th National Congress, an important political event in Beijing, many ethnic people (mainly Uyghurs) from their work unit disappeared suddenly. Even their friends and families didn’t know where they were until a few days later, when it emerged they had been arrested.
There were various reasons given: they did not cooperate with security inspections; they made inappropriate remarks; some were arrested simply for having a previous criminal record. Whatever the official line, it was clear the arrests were connected to the 19th National Party Congress.
Muslims who performed poorly in their new jobs would be sent to a place to "learn".
I have no personal experience of these kinds of things, but I witness them all with my own eyes. The question is how we as Han Chinese respond.
Under the "visit-assist-unite" program, Han people are sent to live in the homes of people from minority ethnic groups. They eat with them, "cultivate national feelings" and "learn" together. Another friend of mine was assigned by his company to take part. In other words, he didn’t have a choice.
When I tell my family and friends that I do not understand these measures, they simply sigh: "This is Xinjiang." In the time I’ve lived away, people have got used to this level of control and it disturbs me.
For many years, the Xinjiang people on state TV’s Spring Festival Gala were mainly Uyghurs who could sing and dance. Similarly, ethnic minority delegates will always wear their traditional costumes at the National People’s Congress in March every year.
My older Han relatives in Xinjiang like this traditional dance very much, but they never seem to associate the Uyghurs who dance with the Uyghurs who live around them. These stereotyped images prevent people from understanding the Uyghurs’ real living conditions and their true social status.
In the time I’ve lived away, people have got used to this level of control and it disturbs me.
I heard a relative of mine say the ethnic minorities at the factory where he works pick things up too slowly. He felt they were not as smart as the Han people. Another friend who worked in a state-owned enterprise said their unit had no ethnic minority members, and were not planning to recruit any. Another classmate mentioned that she hated "meeting Uyghurs" when taking the train because they were "noisy, smelly and dirty".
On one train journey home, I got talking to a man who worked for the Xinjiang regional government. He told me the policy now being implemented is to "sacrifice a generation", with social stability and counter-terrorism policies expected to cause Xinjiang’s economic development to stagnate. A generation of ethnic minorities and Han people will have to live through this ruthless transition, but tough measures now will supposedly build unity for the next generation.
One year, on a whim, I decided to go back to my school. The walls were all fenced with barbed wire. If you didn’t know it was a school, you might assume it was a prison. I wondered what today’s students will think when they grow up and see other places that aren’t surrounded by barbed wire. Would they feel unsafe, or free?
I thought of my Uyghur friends, and I was reminded of the time one of my Han classmates told me he was studying the Uyghur language, and my reaction was: “What's the use in that?" It occurs to me now that I was part of this prejudiced social structure, and always have been. I don’t know what those friends are doing now, but it’s increasingly clear that the boundaries between us were destined to override our connection.


Senior Member
May 30, 2009
China cuts Uighur births with IUDs, abortion, sterilization
The Chinese government is taking draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities as part of a sweeping campaign to curb its Muslim population, even as it encourages some of the country’s Han majority to have more children.

While individual women have spoken out before about forced birth control, the practice is far more widespread and systematic than previously known, according to an AP investigation based on government statistics, state documents and interviews with 30 ex-detainees, family members and a former detention camp instructor. The campaign over the past four years in the far west region of Xinjiang is leading to what some experts are calling a form of “demographic genocide.”

The state regularly subjects minority women to pregnancy checks, and forces intrauterine devices, sterilization and even abortion on hundreds of thousands, the interviews and data show. Even while the use of IUDs and sterilization has fallen nationwide, it is rising sharply in Xinjiang.

The population control measures are backed by mass detention both as a threat and as a punishment for failure to comply. Having too many children is a major reason people are sent to detention camps, the AP found, with the parents of three or more ripped away from their families unless they can pay huge fines. Police raid homes, terrifying parents as they search for hidden children.

Gulnar Omirzakh and Zumret Dawut speak about their run-ins with Xinjiang's birth control campaign.

After Gulnar Omirzakh, a Chinese-born Kazakh, had her third child, the government ordered her to get an IUD inserted. Two years later, in January 2018, four officials in military camouflage came knocking at her door anyway. They gave Omirzakh, the penniless wife of a detained vegetable trader, three days to pay a $2,685 fine for having more than two children.

If she didn’t, they warned, she would join her husband and a million other ethnic minorities locked up in internment camps ¬— often for having too many children.

“God bequeaths children on you. To prevent people from having children is wrong,” said Omirzakh, who tears up even now thinking back to that day. “They want to destroy us as a people.”

The result of the birth control campaign is a climate of terror around having children, as seen in interview after interview. Birth rates in the mostly Uighur regions of Hotan and Kashgar plunged by more than 60% from 2015 to 2018, the latest year available in government statistics. Across the Xinjiang region, birth rates continue to plummet, falling nearly 24% last year alone — compared to just 4.2% nationwide, statistics show.

The hundreds of millions of dollars the government pours into birth control has transformed Xinjiang from one of China’s fastest-growing regions to among its slowest in just a few years, according to new research obtained by The Associated Press in advance of publication by China scholar Adrian Zenz.

“This kind of drop is unprecedented....there’s a ruthlessness to it,” said Zenz, a leading expert in the policing of China’s minority regions. “This is part of a wider control campaign to subjugate the Uighurs.”

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo denounced the policies in a statement Monday.

Full Coverage: China
“We call on the Chinese Communist Party to immediately end these horrific practices,” he said.

China’s foreign minister derided the story as “fabricated” and “fake news,” saying the government treats all ethnicities equally and protects the legal rights of minorities.

“Everyone, regardless of whether they’re an ethnic minority or Han Chinese, must follow and act in accordance with the law,” ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Monday when asked about the AP story.

Chinese officials have said in the past that the new measures are merely meant to be fair, allowing both Han Chinese and ethnic minorities the same number of children.

For decades, China had one of the most extensive systems of minority entitlements in the world, with Uighurs and others getting more points on college entrance exams, hiring quotas for government posts and laxer birth control restrictions. Under China’s now-abandoned ‘one child’ policy, the authorities had long encouraged, often forced, contraceptives, sterilization and abortion on Han Chinese. But minorities were allowed two children — three if they came from the countryside.

Under President Xi Jinping, China’s most authoritarian leader in decades, those benefits are now being rolled back. In 2014, soon after Xi visited Xinjiang, the region’s top official said it was time to implement “equal family planning policies” for all ethnicities and “reduce and stabilize birth rates.” In the following years, the government declared that instead of just one child, Han Chinese could now have two, and three in Xinjiang’s rural areas, just like minorities.

But while equal on paper, in practice Han Chinese are largely spared the abortions, sterilizations, IUD insertions and detentions for having too many children that are forced on Xinjiang’s other ethnicities, interviews and data show. Some rural Muslims, like Omirzakh, are punished even for having the three children allowed by the law.

State-backed scholars have warned for years that large rural religious families were at the root of bombings, knifings and other attacks the Xinjiang government blamed on Islamic terrorists. The growing Muslim population was a breeding ground for poverty and extremism which could “heighten political risk,” according to a 2017 paper by the head of the Institute of Sociology at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences. Another cited as a key obstacle the religious belief that “the fetus is a gift from God.”

Outside experts say the birth control campaign is part of a state-orchestrated assault on the Uighurs to purge them of their faith and identity and forcibly assimilate them. They’re subjected to political and religious re-education in camps and forced labor in factories, while their children are indoctrinated in orphanages. Uighurs, who are often but not always Muslim, are also tracked by a vast digital surveillance apparatus.

“The intention may not be to fully eliminate the Uighur population, but it will sharply diminish their vitality,” said Darren Byler, an expert on Uighurs at the University of Colorado. “It will make them easier to assimilate into the mainstream Chinese population.”

Some go a step further.

“It’s genocide, full stop. It’s not immediate, shocking, mass-killing on the spot type genocide, but it’s slow, painful, creeping genocide,” said Joanne Smith Finley, who works at Newcastle University in the U.K. “These are direct means of genetically reducing the Uighur population.”

For centuries, the majority was Muslim in the arid, landlocked region China now calls “Xinjiang” — meaning “New Frontier” in Mandarin.

After the People’s Liberation Army swept through in 1949, China’s new Communist rulers ordered thousands of soldiers to settle in Xinjiang, pushing the Han population from 6.7% that year to more than 40% by 1980. The move sowed anxiety about Chinese migration that persists to this day. Drastic efforts to restrict birth rates in the 1990s were relaxed after major pushback, with many parents paying bribes or registering children as the offspring of friends or other family members.

That all changed with an unprecedented crackdown starting in 2017, throwing hundreds of thousands of people into prisons and camps for alleged “signs of religious extremism” such as traveling abroad, praying or using foreign social media. Authorities launched what several notices called “dragnet-style” investigations to root out parents with too many children, even those who gave birth decades ago.

“Leave no blind spots,” said two county and township directives in 2018 and 2019 uncovered by Zenz, who is also an independent contractor with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a bipartisan nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. “Contain illegal births and lower fertility levels,” said a third.

Officials and armed police began pounding on doors, looking for kids and pregnant women. Minority residents were ordered to attend weekly flag-raising ceremonies, where officials threatened detention if they didn’t register all their children, according to interviews backed by attendance slips and booklets. Notices found by the AP show that local governments set up or expanded systems to reward those who report illegal births.

In some areas, women were ordered to take gynecology exams after the ceremonies, they said. In others, officials outfitted special rooms with ultrasound scanners for pregnancy tests.

“Test all who need to be tested,” ordered a township directive from 2018. “Detect and deal with those who violate policies early.”

Abdushukur Umar was among the first to fall victim to the crackdown on children. A jovial Uighur tractor driver-turned-fruit merchant, the proud father considered his seven children a blessing from God.

But authorities began pursuing him in 2016. The following year, he was thrown into a camp and later sentenced to seven years in prison — one for each child, authorities told relatives.

“My cousin spent all his time taking care of his family, he never took part in any political movements,” Zuhra Sultan, Umar’s cousin, said from exile in Turkey. “How can you get seven years in prison for having too many children? We’re living in the 21st century — this is unimaginable.”

Sixteen Uighurs and Kazakhs told the AP they knew people interned or jailed for having too many children. Many received years, even decades in prison.

Leaked data obtained and corroborated by the AP showed that of 484 camp detainees listed in Karakax county in Xinjiang, 149 were there for having too many children - the most common reason for holding them. Time in a camp — what the government calls “education and training” — for parents with too many children is written policy in at least three counties, notices found by Zenz confirmed.

In 2017, the Xinjiang government also tripled the already hefty fines for violating family planning laws for even the poorest residents — to at least three times the annual disposable income of the county. While fines also apply to Han Chinese, only minorities are sent to the detention camps if they cannot pay, according to interviews and data. Government reports show the counties collect millions of dollars from the fines each year.

Gulnar Omirzakh's fine for 17,405 RMB, or $2865, for having a third child.

In other efforts to change the population balance of Xinjiang, China is dangling land, jobs and economic subsidies to lure Han migrants there. It is also aggressively promoting intermarriage between Han Chinese and Uighurs, with one couple telling the AP they were given money for housing and amenities like a washing machine, refrigerator and TV.

“It links back to China’s long history of dabbling in eugenics….you don’t want people who are poorly educated, marginal minorities breeding quickly,” said James Leibold, a specialist in Chinese ethnic policy at La Trobe in Melbourne. “What you want is your educated Han to increase their birth rate.”

Sultan describes how the policy looks to Uighurs like her: “The Chinese government wants to control the Uighur population and make us fewer and fewer, until we disappear.”


Once in the detention camps, women are subjected to forced IUDs and what appear to be pregnancy prevention shots, according to former detainees. They are also made to attend lectures on how many children they should have.

Seven former detainees told the AP that they were force-fed birth control pills or injected with fluids, often with no explanation. Many felt dizzy, tired or ill, and women stopped getting their periods. After being released and leaving China, some went to get medical check-ups and found they were sterile.

It’s unclear what former detainees were injected with, but Xinjiang hospital slides obtained by the AP show that pregnancy prevention injections, sometimes with the hormonal medication Depo-Provera, are a common family planning measure. Side effects can include headaches and dizziness.

Dina Nurdybay, a Kazakh woman, was detained in a camp which separated married and unmarried women. The married women were given pregnancy tests, Nurdybay recalled, and forced to have IUDs installed if they had children. She was spared because she was unmarried and childless.

One day in February 2018, one of her cellmates, a Uighur woman, had to give a speech confessing what guards called her “crimes.” When a visiting official peered through the iron bars of their cell, she recited her lines in halting Mandarin.

“I gave birth to too many children,” she said. “It shows I’m uneducated and know little about the law.”

“Do you think it’s fair that Han people are only allowed to have one child?” the official asked, according to Nurdybay. “You ethnic minorities are shameless, wild and uncivilized.”

Nurdybay met at least two others in the camps whom she learned were locked up for having too many children. Later, she was transferred to another facility with an orphanage that housed hundreds of children, including those with parents detained for giving birth too many times. The children counted the days until they could see their parents on rare visits.

“They told me they wanted to hug their parents, but they were not allowed,” she said. “They always looked very sad.”

One of Xinjiang's internment camps in Artux, China.
Another former detainee, Tursunay Ziyawudun, said she was injected until she stopped having her period, and kicked repeatedly in the lower stomach during interrogations. She now can’t have children and often doubles over in pain, bleeding from her womb, she said.

Ziyawudun and the 40 other women in her “class” were forced to attend family planning lectures most Wednesdays, where films were screened about impoverished women struggling to feed many children. Married women were rewarded for good behavior with conjugal visits from their husbands, along with showers, towels, and two hours in a bedroom. But there was a catch – they had to take birth control pills beforehand.

Some women have even reported forced abortions. Ziyawudun said a “teacher” at her camp told women they would face abortions if found pregnant during gynecology exams.

A woman in another class turned out to be pregnant and disappeared from the camp, she said. She added that two of her cousins who were pregnant got rid of their children on their own because they were so afraid.

Another woman, Gulbahar Jelilova, confirmed that detainees in her camp were forced to abort their children. She also saw a new mother, still leaking breast milk, who did not know what had happened to her infant. And she met doctors and medical students who were detained for helping Uighurs dodge the system and give birth at home.

In December 2017, on a visit from Kazakhstan back to China, Gulzia Mogdin was taken to a hospital after police found WhatsApp on her phone. A urine sample revealed she was two months pregnant with her third child. Officials told Mogdin she needed to get an abortion and threatened to detain her brother if she didn’t.

During the procedure, medics inserted an electric vacuum into her womb and sucked her fetus out of her body. She was taken home and told to rest, as they planned to take her to a camp.

Months later, Mogdin made it back to Kazakhstan, where her husband lives.

“That baby was going to be the only baby we had together,” said Mogdin, who had recently remarried. “I cannot sleep. It’s terribly unfair.”

The success of China’s push to control births among Muslim minorities shows up in the numbers for IUDs and sterilization.

In 2014, just over 200,000 IUDs were inserted in Xinjiang. By 2018, that jumped more than 60 percent to nearly 330,000 IUDs. At the same time, IUD use tumbled elsewhere in China, as many women began getting the devices removed.

A former teacher drafted to work as an instructor at a detention camp described her experience with IUDs to the AP.

She said it started with flag-raising assemblies at her compound in the beginning of 2017, where officials made Uighur residents recite “anti-terror” lessons. They chanted, “If we have too many children, we’re religious extremists....That means we have to go to the training centers.”

Police rounded up over 180 parents with too many children until “not a single one was left,” she said. At night, she said, she lay in bed, stiff with terror, as officers with guns and tasers hauled her neighbors away. From time to time police pounded on her door and searched her apartment for Qurans, knives, prayer mats and of course children, she said.

“Your heart would leap out of your chest,” she said.

Then, that August, officials in the teacher’s compound were told to install IUDs on all women of childbearing age. She protested, saying she was nearly 50 with just one child and no plans to have more. Officials threatened to drag her to a police station and strap her to an iron chair for interrogation.

She was forced into a bus with four armed officers and taken to a hospital where hundreds of Uighur women lined up in silence, waiting for IUDs to be inserted. Some wept quietly, but nobody dared say a word because of the surveillance cameras hanging overhead.

Her IUD was designed to be irremovable without special instruments. The first 15 days, she got headaches and nonstop menstrual bleeding.

“I couldn’t eat properly, I couldn’t sleep properly. It gave me huge psychological pressure,” she said. “Only Uighurs had to wear it.”

Chinese health statistics also show a sterilization boom in Xinjiang.

Budget documents obtained by Zenz show that starting in 2016, the Xinjiang government began pumping tens of millions of dollars into a birth control surgery program and cash incentives for women to get sterilized. While sterilization rates plunged in the rest of the country, they surged seven-fold in Xinjiang from 2016 to 2018, to more than 60,000 procedures. The Uighur-majority city of Hotan budgeted for 14,872 sterilizations in 2019 — over 34% of all married women of childbearing age, Zenz found.

Even within Xinjiang, policies vary widely, being harsher in the heavily Uighur south than the Han-majority north. In Shihezi, a Han-dominated city where Uighurs make up less than 2% of the population, the government subsidizes baby formula and hospital birth services to encourage more children, state media reported.

Zumret Dawut got no such benefits. In 2018, the mother of three was locked in a camp for two months for having an American visa.

When she returned home under house arrest, officials forced her to get gynecology exams every month, along with all other Uighur women in her compound. Han women were exempted. They warned that if she didn’t take what they called “free examinations”, she could end up back in the camp.

One day, they turned up with a list of at least 200 Uighur women in her compound with more than two children who had to get sterilized, Dawut recalled.

“My Han Chinese neighbors, they sympathized with us Uighurs,” Dawut said. “They told me, ‘oh, you’re suffering terribly, the government is going way too far!’”

Dawut protested, but police again threatened to send her back to the camp. During the sterilization procedure, Han Chinese doctors injected her with anesthesia and tied her fallopian tubes — a permanent operation. When Dawut came to, she felt her womb ache.

“I was so angry,” she said. “I wanted another son.”


Gulnar Omirzakh and her third child, Alif Baqytali.
Looking back, Omirzakh considers herself lucky.

After that frigid day when officials threatened to lock her up, Omirzakh called relatives around the clock. Hours before the deadline, she scraped together enough money to pay the fine from the sale of her sister’s cow and high-interest loans, leaving her deep in debt.

For the next year, Omirzakh attended classes with the wives of others detained for having too many children. She and her children lived with two local party officials sent specially to spy on them. When her husband was finally released, they fled for Kazakhstan with just a few bundles of blankets and clothes.

The IUD still in Omirzakh’s womb has now sunk into her flesh, causing inflammation and piercing back pain, “like being stabbed with a knife.” For Omirzakh, it’s a bitter reminder of everything she’s lost — and the plight of those she left behind.

“People there are now terrified of giving birth,” she said. “When I think of the word ‘Xinjiang,’ I can still feel that fear.”

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